Immunohistochemical and biochemical demonstration of the change in glycolipid composition of the intestinal epithelial cell surface in mice in relation to epithelial cell differentiation and bacterial association

J Histochem Cytochem. 1984 Mar;32(3):299-304. doi: 10.1177/32.3.6693758.


We have previously demonstrated the appearance of fucosyl asialo-GM1 (FGA1) in the small-intestinal epithelial cells of germ-free mice via the induction of GDP-fucose: asialo-GM1 (GA1) alpha(1 leads to 2) fucosyltransferase (FT) after the conventionalization of these animals (Umesaki Y, Sakata T, Yajima T: Biochem Biophys Res Commun 105:439, 1982). The present study, based on this earlier work, demonstrates the changes in the glycolipid antigens of the small-intestinal epithelial-cell membrane as shown immunohistochemically with specific antibodies raised against asialo GM1 (GA1) and FGA1. In germ-free mice, GA1 was localized both in the villus cells and in the crypt cells. In the process of conventionalization, FGA1 appeared in the villus cells while the GA1 content of these cells was decreased. Four to 5 days after the conventionalization procedure, the fluorescence produced by anti-FGA1 was strongest in the villus cells, while that produced by anti-GA1 was detected only in the crypt cells. At this same time the FT activity of the small-intestinal mucosa was highest, with most of the GA1 apparently being converted into FGA1, as shown in the paper cited above. Thereafter, the GA1 content of both the villus and crypt cells again increased greatly. On the other hand, the fluorescence produced with anti-FGA1 decreased, and could no longer be detected 14 days after conventionalization. The activity of FT, measured biochemically in epithelial cells differentially isolated from the villus tip to the crypt, was greater in the villus than in the crypt region. This confirmed the intense staining with anti-FGA1 that was seen in villus cells. The fluorescence produced by the two anti-glycolipid antibodies used in the study distributed not only in the microvillus membrane but also to some extent in the basolateral membrane. The localization of the respective glycolipids contrasted with that of the glycoprotein sucrase--isomaltase enzyme complex, the fluorescence of which was exclusively confined to the microvillus-membrane side of the villus cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Gangliosides
  • Glycolipids / analysis
  • Glycolipids / metabolism*
  • Glycosphingolipids / analysis
  • Glycosphingolipids / immunology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunochemistry
  • Intestine, Small / metabolism*
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Subcellular Fractions / analysis
  • Sucrase-Isomaltase Complex / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • G(A1) ganglioside
  • Gangliosides
  • Glycolipids
  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • Sucrase-Isomaltase Complex